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Children have the wonderful gift of being uninhibited by the rules of art. Encouraging your child’s creativity can not only be fun, but beneficial for your little one. Studies show that art can help children develop motor skills, language, decision making, cultural awareness, and improved academic performance over time. Creativity should be an enjoyable time, however. Finding ways to make it fun for both you and your child will not only form a positive association with art but also make the process more inventive and less painful.
Instead of plopping your little one down with a few crayons and paper, get creative with your drawing mediums. See how they like using washable markers on balloons. (Be sure not to over-inflate the balloons to avoid popping while mid-creation.) Chalk on pavement is a classic. However, you can also use chalk on surfaces such as wood panels, cardboard, inexpensive canvases, and even trampolines.
Crafts stores offer plenty of unpainted wooden shapes that can make for an excellent drawing surface. Some children don’t like the feel of paper, so drawing on a new object could peak their interest. Another option is to set down some foil or newspaper on a surface so that it can get messy. Then let them have a try with kids oil pastels. If you dip a cotton bud in a little cooking oil and you can show them how to blend the oil pastels to teach a little about shading and blending.
Do they prefer numbers and geometrical shapes to typical arts and crafts? Allowing kids to experiment with drawing devices such as a spirograph can encourage those who are less interested in art to have fun making patterns and geometric shapes. Moreover, for kids who already enjoy art, these can be a delightful introduction to the connection between math and design. A French curve is another fun tool with which they can practice making less rigid lines while still using a tool.
Pulling out a random household object and letting kids trace them can help them overcome the fear of beginning. Tell them to start with one or two outlined shapes and then build a drawing of other colors and forms around it. If you have a ruler or kid-safe protractor, see if they enjoy designing pictures using tools like these, as well. Alternatively, cut an image of an object from a magazine, paste it to a piece of paper, and allow them to draw and design around it.
Regardless of your tools, mediums, or methods, remember to make it a relaxed, enjoyable experience. Don’t get frustrated with your little one, and allow them to create what they feel inspired to draw. Early association with activities can shape children’s feelings about those events for years. Read their cues and follow what seems fun for them. Over time, they will begin to see creativity as a stress-relieving, happy activity.
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